Something was off, when Elle got back to her apartment that night. She could sense the tension the second she opened the front door. It was like a friction in the air, charged up and ready to— to— to do something. Something big.
Her stomach dropped.
It took Elle at least thirty seconds to convince herself to step through the door and close it behind her. All the lights in the front room were on. Boxes were stacked neatly by the door, taped shut and labeled kitchen, living room, and—
Elle— she really should have seen this coming, shouldn’t she?
“Gina?” There was no response, which— fair. Elle wouldn’t want to be around for this either, if she had the option. “Gina?” She tried again, poking her head into the master suite with a polite double-knock on the half-open door. Gina’s cat, Bast, raised her head from her perch on Gina’s unmade bed, and— honestly, it was a wonder anyone could live in the amount of trash littering the entire floor, and the dirty clothing, and just… everything else going on in there. Which was a lot.
Still no answer. Elle swallowed and backtracked, looking around for some sort of sign of life, of something to explain what was going on. There was nothing to go on, here, except the empty solarium that had previously held all of her sewing stuff, where only her sewing table and its chair stood now, and the notably empty kitchen. Elle couldn’t decide if she was relieved or not by the fact that all of her stuff had clearly been packed away— and, she noted, a few things that hadn’t been hers, though that wasn’t really an inconvenience.
Nevertheless. Nothing to go on out here. Resigned, Elle opened her own bedroom door.
Her heart sank down to join her stomach at her feet.
Flat boxes lay in a haphazard stack on her neatly made bed. On top of them was a sheet of paper, on which Elle could make out Gina’s impossible, cramped handwriting.
I’ve decided to keep the apartment. I have a new roommate lined up. She gets here in a few days. I want to clean this room before she gets here. Please be out with your stuff by Thursday. I’ll be in Michigan until then. Everything of yours from our shared spaces has been wrapped and packed for you, and there should be enough boxes here for the rest of your stuff.
It was too difficult for me to find a place to live within my price range on such short notice. Seeing as you’re financially better off than me, and have parents who will actually send you money, I’m sure you’ll have better luck. I hope you understand.
P.s. Please feed the cat while I’m gone. You can leave the keys with the front office when you’re all moved out.
It took… an embarrassing amount of time, really, for Elle to read through the note. Her hand was shaking so violently that she could barely track the words. Halfway through, she ended up having to stop and rub her eyes, telling herself firmly that crying could wait, she just had to think, to plot out all the things she had to do— wash all of her clothing, pack it up. Wrap and pack all of her nicknacks and pictures, box up her books, her linens, her bathroom—
The first sob came as a surprise. The second, less so. Before she could stop it, Elle found herself openly weeping, standing in the middle of her bedroom with fat, hot tears rolling down her face.
There was too much to sort through at once. Too much to do. And there, underneath all of the panic and shock, was a horrible, boiling anger, welling up in her chest until she could barely breathe. All because Gina decided it was too hard to find a new place.
“Okay,” she muttered to herself, forcing herself to breathe. Her nose was so stuffed up it was nearly impossible. “Okay. I can…” She could do this. She could keep it together long enough to get her shit together before Gina got back from Michigan. Today was Sunday. She had to be out by Thursday. She had three whole days to get her stuff together and get out.
God, where would she even go? And on such short notice? Her Mom lived up in Pennsylvania, she hadn’t seen her dad in person since her college graduation and didn’t intend to, her brother… She loved him to pieces, but she didn’t want to live with him and his weird, chain smoking roommates. Honestly, she could probably sleep in the tech booth, or the costume room in the back of the theater. Not like anyone would expect to find her anywhere else, she basically already lived there…
John’s words sprang into her mind so suddenly and vividly, she actually gasped, the sound shaky and loud in the empty apartment.
You let me or Logan know if anything changes.
Her phone all but lived in her left pocket, which was probably not healthy, but at a time like this, she found she didn’t really care. Her hands were still shaking, making it twice as hard to unlock her phone and pull up Logan’s name in her contacts. Except no, Logan had a date tonight. It was bad enough she was about to ask if she could mooch a place to live off of him, let alone interrupting whatever the two of them were in the middle of to do so. Besides, it had been John’s offer. Technically.
She switched to John’s contact info, and before she could worry her way out of it, she pressed call.
The sheer stupidity of her life’s choices hit her before it even rang. She couldn’t— she couldn’t just move in, in three days, with her best friend and his roommate. God, what would they think? Her roommate was kicking her out. They’d probably ask why. Logan already basically knew. They’d realize she was a garbage roommate. They’d ask her to leave. They wouldn’t even let her move in. They’d laugh in her face. They’d realize who she really was as a person, and they’d hate her for it—
John picked up on the second ring, just as Elle felt herself tip from shock and anger into crippling panic. “Elle? Are you okay?”
“I’m—” She’d been planning to say fine, but her voice sounded so hysterical to her own ears that she stopped herself before the lie could even come out. She sucked in another sharp breath as her throat began to close up.
In the background, she could hear more masculine voices; first Logan’s, with a noticeably alarmed pitch, saying her name, and beyond his, the gentler, more confused voice of his boyfriend, Tyler, saying something indecipherable. John’s voice went muffled as he shushed them.
God, this was ridiculous. She should have just gotten a hotel until she could find an apartment of her own, instead of expecting her friends to—
Elle sucked in a shuddering breath. She didn’t really have many options, right now. Throat tight, she swallowed, and then choked out the only words she could come up with.
“Is that offer still on the table?”